On this day in 1836, Henry and Eliza Spalding set out from Pittsburgh, Pa to start the first mission among the Nez Perce Indians in Oregon. They were sent out under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
Their ship made a landing in Cincinnati four days later, where Marcus and Narcissa Whitman joined them. Together, these two couples would continue to Missouri in a boat and, from there, take covered wagons across the plains and the mountains to Oregon. They were the first to ever take the route that would become the famed “Oregon Trail”.
Once the couples arrived in Oregon, The Spalding set up their mission along the Idaho and Oregon border, working among the Nez Perce Indians. The Whitmans moved further in and started their mission in Waiilatpu, Washington. The Spaldings saw great success among the Indians, baptizing many of them, including several tribal chiefs. Henry created a writing system for their language and then translated the Gospel of Matthew and several other portions of scripture for them. He even brought the first printing press into the territory, so he could print portions of the scripture for his people.
On this day in 1948, Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor, was arrested by communist soldiers on his way to his church. He would remain in prison for eight and a half years, where he would go through horrific torture and severe interrogations.
Wurmbrand got put on the communist radar in 1945, the year Romania came under the control of Soviet troops. The year of their invasion, the Communist held a gathering for all the religious leaders in the country. During the meeting, many religious leaders came forward to praise Communism and to swear loyalty to the new regime. Sabina, Richard;s wife, leaned over to him and said, “Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ.” Richard warned, “If I do so, you’ll lose your husband.” “I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband,” she replied. Richard stood up and declared to the 4,000 delegates, whose speeches were broadcast to the whole nation, that their duty is to glorify God and Christ alone.
After this, Richard worked to smuggle Bibles and gospel literature into Russia and Romania. He often went among the Russian troops, handing out Bibles disguised as Communist propaganda. In the two years before his arrest, he distributed over 1 million pieces of literature.
After eight years in prison, Richard was released and told to never preach again. Of course he didn’t listen. He was arrested again just three years after his release and held for another five years. When he was again released, the Christians in the Western World paid a $10,000 ransom for Richard and his family to leave Romania. Richard would go on to become a powerful voice and drive for the suffering Christians in restricted-access countries. His ministry was called “The Voice of the Martyrs”.
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